THE FACTORY | THIS WEEK 3.17.2014 – 3.21.2014

THE-FACTORY-THIS-WEEK-313“The true secret of happiness lies in the taking a genuine interest in all the details of daily life.”
–William Morris

What a nice reminder to stop and enjoy the little things in life this week.
Hoping that we see you soon,
xoNatalie

Here is what we have going on at The Factory Store + Café this week, Monday, March 17 – Friday, March 21:

STORE
Visit us at The Factory this week and save 15% on our selection of organic cotton ponchos. Available in lightweight or medium-weight cotton jersey, ponchos are versatile cover-ups and the perfect accessory for springtime.

*In-store purchases only, March 17 – 21.

Call Carson at +1.256.760.1090 for more information, style tips, and assistance with orders.

There are also still a few spots open for our upcoming Weekend Workshop April 4 – 6 at The Factory. Visit here for more information and to register.

Store Hours Monday – Friday, 9:00am – 5:00pm

TOURS
Stop by any weekday at 3:00pm for a guided tour of our space, including The Factory, the Alabama Chanin production and design studio, and Building 14.

CAFÉ
Join us in the café for lunch this week for a bowl of our popular tomato soup or our new weekly special—house made crepes filled with roasted seasonal vegetables, ricotta, and bacon—easily one of my favorite savory dishes we serve.
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THE HEART: CARRA-ELLEN RUSSELL

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If you have purchased an Alabama Chanin garment or DIY kit in the last year or so, there is a chance that the fabric in your hands was also touched by Carra-Ellen Russell. Carra-Ellen is our Production Manager and is present at the beginning of most of the things that we make; she starts each garment and kit on its journey by cutting them and passing them along to the next phase. Pieces come back to her once they have been painted, where she helps package them with the proper notions and supplies to be given to one of our stitchers or to be shipped as a DIY kit.

Carra-Ellen came to us about a year-and-a-half ago, through the suggestion of our Director of Design and Special Services, Olivia. As we were growing and looking for well-organized team members, Olivia reached out to her friend, asking her to apply to be part of our production staff. Her transition into our staff happened quite naturally after that; she says that working at The Factory was meant to be.

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DIY SWATCH PILLOWS

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Each Thursday on the Journal we post DIY projects and ideas. On Thursdays following our highlight of the Swatch of the Month, we will be creating projects made from our completed swatches as a source of inspiration for those of you following along. At Alabama Chanin, swatches start out as a design concept for new collections, but as we have discovered over the years, you can do almost anything with them.

We have chosen to take the swatches from the past three months and create decorative pillows. We re-worked the swatches from January, February, and March using the Neutrals color scheme, in order to create a cohesive look for the entire project. Follow the instructions for creating a pillow on page 109 of Alabama Studio Style, making accommodations for the size of your chosen pillow.

Whatever their size, these pillows make great accents for a couch, chair, or bed. I love them in simple color-blocked versions and, as we’ve done here, with the front side embellished with swatches.

March’s swatch, the Beaded Fern, is appliqued to a 12” x 20” double-layer White pillow, lined with White piping, with a whipstitch and Dogwood thread.

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MULETOWN ROASTED COFFEE + THE FACTORY BLEND

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My mornings always start with coffee. Like many of you, the act of drinking coffee has long been a part of my daily routine. So, I was excited when approached with the idea of crafting my own organically-sourced blend. If you’ve visited The Factory lately, you’ve probably enjoyed a cup of our house coffee, which is roasted by Muletown Roasted Coffee, based in nearby Columbia, Tennessee. I drink it at home, in the car, at work (and I’ve noticed most of our staff does as well. If you happen to drop by when we are having a meeting, you’ll find most of us taking sips between taking notes). We have several former baristas and coffee aficionados on our team and we all agree: our Factory blend is borderline addictive. The flavor is smooth, yet dark, with a buttery feel and a slight dark chocolate finish. Delicious.

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MAKESHIFT + JACK SANDERS

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Long-time friend and artist Jack Sanders is also an architect, filmmaker, and baseball enthusiast. He is the founder of Design Build Adventure, a full-service “design, build, and adventure company” that focuses on collaboration.

I first met Jack when he was a student of Samuel “Sambo” Mockbee of the Rural Studio.  I sent him a box of t-shirts (which he never returned) in the hopes that I could convince Rural Studio to come up to Florence and build us a production facility. (It turns out that work outside of the Black Belt wasn’t possible.) But Jack (then known as “Jay”) and I remained friends.  Years later, he co-produced a feature-length documentary on Sambo, called Citizen Architect: Samuel Mockbee and the Spirit of the Rural Studio which won many accolades.

As you may remember, our MAKESHIFT initiative asks the questions: How do we define and transform the intersection of fashion, food, design, craft + DIY through innovation and collaboration for the better good? How can varied disciplines work together as one?
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MEN’S COLLECTION HIGHLIGHT

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The most recent Alabama Chanin collection features several new men’s garments. These pieces, like the rest of the collection, were inspired by photographs taken by the Massengill family in rural Arkansas just before the Second World War, as seen in Maxine Payne’s anthology, Making Pictures: Three for a Dime. Many of you have been asking for more men’s options, and as Alabama Chanin continues to expand as a lifestyle company, it is our hope to reach a larger audience with our collections and collaborations (and hopefully give you what you’ve been asking for in the process).

While all of these tops can be worn by both men and women alike, we designed them with a more masculine-driven wardrobe in mind. Browse some of our favorites below, or view the entire collection here.

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THE FACTORY | THIS WEEK 3.10.2014 – 3.14.2014

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“Let us be grateful to people who make us happy, they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.”
-Marcel Proust

Hoping that you have a great week and that we see you soon,
xoNatalie

Here is what we have going on at The Factory Store + Café this week, Monday, March 10 – Friday, March 14:

STORE
Visit us at The Factory this week for our “Lucky Sale”. Save 15% on products and custom garment orders in Lime (in addition to fabric yardage in Emerald, Leaf Green, Moss, Ochre, and Forest).

*In-store purchases only, March 10 – 17.

Store Hours Monday – Friday, 9:00am – 5:00pm

TOURS
Stop by any weekday at 3:00pm for a guided tour of our space, including The Factory, the Alabama Chanin production and design studio, and Building 14.

CAFÉ
Join us in the café for lunch, a sweet treat, or coffee. Our savory puff pastries have been a popular dish the past few weeks, and are featured as this week’s special.
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CO-WORKERS

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Each morning, when the rising sun (or my daughter) wakes me and I open my eyes, I begin to go over my plan for the day. This is a treasured time. Some days, I can’t wait to get going and the day’s tasks are joyous and fruitful; other days, work just feels like…work. Last summer, as I was writing a vision plan for Alabama Chanin, it became evident that having a solid team in place – a team that had the talent and the desire to carry out that vision – would be essential. Now, when I look around, I see that our team members are creating strong relationships that are enhancing our work environment and also enriching their personal lives.

History shows that workplace teams spark one another’s creativity and create long-lasting work. Colleagues Kate and Laura Mulleavy, the sisters behind the fashion label Rodarte, create some of the most original pieces each season. The New Yorker wrote that, though they have their differences, the sisters “act like a single organism,” which speaks to their specific communication skills. The Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section, known by music lovers as “The Swampers”, created such a successful working relationship that they became business partners and founded a storied recording studio, Muscle Shoals Sound Studio. Charles and Ray Eames are among the most important American designers of the last century. He studied architecture; she studied painting and sculpting; together they not only influenced the rise of modernism, but developed innovative ways of using materials and were champions of computer technology in design.

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SWATCH OF THE MONTH: MARCH 2014

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Each month, as part of our Swatch of the Month Club, we are demonstrating some of our most popular techniques so that you might try your hand at creating new designs and embroideries. If you join the Swatch of the Month Club, you will receive a ready-to-sew package each month with the supplies needed to make that month’s unique piece. Just provide your own needles, pins, and scissors (or purchase an Essential Sewing Kit from our online store). Techniques and instruction can be found in Alabama Studio Sewing + Design.

The hi-resolution photograph above of March’s featured technique, for use as your computer desktop background, is available from our Resources page.

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THE HISTORY OF LANE (DRIVE) CAKE

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Alabama Chanin’s first-ever sewing workshop took place in 2008 alongside a seminar on Southern cooking, organized and presented by our friend and collaborator, Angie Mosier. While the sewing participants stitched and chatted, the food preparers fried up some chicken, steamed collard greens and made pot likker, then baked the most delicious Lane Cake. At each meal, Angie explained the history of each dish and its significance within Southern culture. This is where I first learned the details behind one of Alabama’s culinary specialties, the Lane Cake.

Lane Cake was created by Emma Rylander Lane of Clayton, Alabama, as her entry into a county fair baking competition in Columbus, Georgia. She originally called the recipe, “Prize Cake,” but eventually leant her name to the dessert for all posterity. She self-published a cookbook called Some Good Things to Eat in 1898 and included the recipe as one of her featured desserts. Lane Cake is a white, layered sponge cake (originally designed for 4 layers) iced with a frosting that includes coconut, raisins, pecans, and bourbon. It is often found in the South at receptions, holiday dinners, or wedding showers. Chef Scott Peacock writes in The Gift of Southern Cooking that he was served a Lane Cake every year on his birthday.

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